Forgive me this brevity, but I’ve spent the better part of this weekend trying to write from viewpoint of an eight-year-old child, the world through her eyes, as it were. The world as she experiences it, first-hand. This chapter was more difficult than I had imagined, while it was easy to have her observe the more sophisticated dialogue and surroundings around her as a means to give weight and perspective against her narrative, I found achieving her voice challenging. I wrote her as an adult would write her, and I had to go back and spend six hours on six pages, obsessing over diction and word choices. Often, I kept returning to Emma Donoghue’s The Room, for reference, but still.
While living a day where I took on the role of revisionist, this lovely loaf of bread steadily ascended. And this morning, I sliced into this hot loaf, slathered it with butter, and got excited to start the day.
INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups (5/8 = 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.